AirTalk for September 7, 2010

Mercer 10158

Plan to burn Qurans may be legal, but is it right?

Terry Jones, senior pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida is planning a “'Burn a Quran Day” for September the 11th. Jones’ right to do so is protected by the 1st Amendment, but the event has already incited protests in Kabul, Afghanistan - during which U.S. troops were pelted with rocks. General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has warned that the Florida event could "endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort here.” First amendment law is pretty clear: Jones and his church have the legal right to burn Qurans. But does that make it right? And when do national security concerns outweigh civil rights?
Mercer 10160

“Velcro parents” can’t let go

Starting college means new found independence for students, but it can mean severe separation anxiety for their so-called “Velcro parents.” After 18 years of close involvement, some parents are finding it hard to let go… in some cases hanging around campus for days. Colleges are finding new ways to help these parents cut the cord. Morehouse College in Atlanta has created a formal “Parting Ceremony.” Grinnell College in Iowa welcomes new students and their parents into a gymnasium for an address by the school president, after which parents are encouraged to leave campus. It’s all done out of love, but how do you convince parents that the best way to hold on is to let go?
Mercer 10161
President Obama has proposed new tax breaks for businesses and $50 billion in new infrastructure projects. Companies would be able to take deductions up front for capital investments, and money spent on plants and equipment through 2011. The measures are part of the President’s plan to boost the economy while letting the Bush tax cuts expire. Do we need another round of stimulus spending? What’s the best way to jumpstart the economy?
Mercer 10165

Subway to the sea won’t fix traffic

LA-Metro released its environmental report late last week on the proposed “subway to the sea,” a 12-mile extension of the Wilshire Purple Line that will cost about $5 billion. Voters approved a County sales tax in 2008 to help pay for it. But here’s the catch: if you think the subway’s going to make your drive easier, guess again. Projected population increases will all-but negate any traffic relief from people leaving their cars in favor of the subway. True, for some 100,000 riders, it will be a nice alternative, but commuters along the same route will still be stuck. Is the project worth it? And with a growing population, is traffic relief even possible?
Mercer 10166

Plugging in your brain

It’s the stuff of science fiction…scientists take a computer plug and insert it into an opening in a patient’s head, enabling the subject to broadcast her thoughts through a computer. Now scientists at Duke and Brown University, as well as other centers, are starting to figure out how to connect computers to our minds. In one experiment, electrodes were inserted deep into the brain of a monkey, allowing the subject to control a robot arm with thoughts alone. In another lab, a paralyzed patient was able to move a cursor on a computer screen. People suffering from paralysis may be able to control their environment through thought within 5 years, the optimists say. And in the distant future, might we interface our minds directly with the Internet? Where would you think yourself?
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